Assess for success. 

As the crucial first step in the Assess – Plan – Improve process, assessment gives you & your staff the data you need to identify strengths & challenge areas, & build safer, more supportive, interactive, & engaging environments for youth. 

This page hosts a variety of resources designed to help you effectively observe & collect data. Click the links below to download the PQA that best suits your program.




Research-identified best practices that support environments to be:

  • Safe,
  • Supportive,
  • Interactive, and
  • Engaging


  1. Program staff (self-assessment) or a trained reliable rater (external assessment) gather data by observing program activities, taking notes, & conducting interviews with a program
  2. Notes, observations, & interview data are used to evaluate & score program offerings on the different items included in the PQA. PQA Handbooks offer guidance and scoring support.
  3. Item scores are combined to create an overall program quality profile.
  4. Scores are then entered into the Scores Reporter, an online data-reporting system used to produce reports & store data over time.

The Organizational Quality Assessment (OQA) is being piloted in 2022-2023 program year for organizations interested in assessing the structural features of programs, such as policies and practices, staff development, and strategies for program improvement.

The blog, Organizational Quality Sets the Stage for Program Quality, provides insight into the development and intended use of the OQA.

These supplements serve a positive educational purpose through supporting continuous improvement planning & action and are not appropriate for high-stakes use.

Academic Skill-Building PQA

The Academic Skill-Building PQA is designed to supplement the Youth and School-Age PQAs, and should be used in conjunction with the relevant training & guidebook. Based on expert mixed-methods research utilizing a diverse sample of tutors, programs, & providers, this tool illuminates best practices for tutoring & other academically focused out-of-school settings.

Arts PQA

Developed in partnership with Casita Maria Center for Arts and Education, this PQA focuses on quality practices for engaging young people in arts-specific afterschool programs.

Health & Wellness PQA

Designed as a supplement for the Youth PQA, the Health & Wellness PQA focuses on nutrition, physical activity, and mental health and resiliency and is flexibly designed for use with a wide variety of programs.

Science, Technology, Engineering, & Mathematics (STEM) PQA

The STEM PQA is an observation-based measure of instructional practices to support continuous improvement during STEM programming. Created in partnership with the Providence After School Alliance, the STEM PQA is based on AfterZone Summer Scholars program data.

School-Age PQA with Extended Observation Scales

This version of the School-Age PQA has additional scales that support walkthrough observation - a method that is used to observe a full range of activities, from activity structure and transitions to departure. This assessment is meant to capture aspects of a program day that are not generally assessed when observing a single program or activity.


Terms of Use 
These   are   the   field-leading   quality   assessments   for   out-of-school-time    organizations. We are pleased to share some samples of these tools subject to the terms of the user agreement. 
Downloading PDFs for the Program Quality Assessments indicates acknowledgement that you do not have permission to sell copies of the PQAs or make any derivative materials using any part of the content within without explicit written permission from the Forum for Youth Investment. You are permitted to print, copy, share, and use the tool within your organization or program, so long as the End User License Agreement on the back page of the tool remains intact. 
The PQAs available on this page are just the tip of the iceberg: Each PQA is designed to work within an array of resources geared toward building a culture of continuous quality improvement. 

Our Vision

All young people reach their fullest potential - in education, work, and life.

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